The Before I Die project reimagines how the walls of our cities can help us grapple with mortality and meaning as a community today.

Before I Die is a global participatory public art project that reimagines our relationship with death and with one another in the public realm. Originally created by artist Candy Chang in New Orleans after the death of a loved one, the public artwork invites people to reflect and share their personal aspirations in public. The Atlantic called it, “one of the most creative community projects ever,” and after receiving many requests, Candy created this website of resources to help others interested in creating Before I Die walls in their own communities.

Thanks to passionate people around the world, over 5,000 Before I Die walls have now been created by communities in over 75 countries, including Iraq, China, Brazil, Kazakhstan, and South Africa. Candy’s 2012 TED talk about Before I Die has been viewed over five million times and translated into over 40 languages. Each wall is created by local residents who want to make a space in their community to reflect with one another. Each wall is a unique tribute to living an examined life. And each wall invites us to restore perspective in an age of increasing distractions.


Frequent Questions

Can I build my own Before I Die wall?

Absolutely! This concept is free for anyone to use so long as it’s not for commercial or promotional use. Find out how to get started here.

Can I make my own version of this concept?

We’re always happy to see non-commercial variations of the Before I Die project. We’ve seen walls that focus on everything from aging to graduating to loving your city. If it’s helpful, you’re welcome to use our step-by-step guide and templates, and we hope you might mention your project was inspired by Before I Die.

Is there a digital version of the Before I Die project? Can I make my own app or website?

We’ve experimented with creating a digital Before I Die wall and we’ve learned a few things along the way. First, that scrolling through digital text isn’t nearly as satisfying as seeing the personalities and quirks of individual handwriting. Second, a digital wall quickly becomes a joyless exercise in policing horrible comments from robots and trolls. It’s probably not worth it.

How can I support the Before I Die project?

We rely upon donations from companies and organizations to keep this station up and running, and this allows us to continue developing resources, content, and materials for our projects.

I like this project. Any others?

Candy Chang has since created more participatory public artworks on emotional health. You can find them on her personal website.

How can I find out if a Before I Die wall is currently in a particular city?

With dozens of new walls appearing and disappearing each month, it’s been difficult to keep track of the status of each wall. If you know the organization or individual who created the wall you’re searching for, it might be helpful to get in touch with them directly.

Can Candy Chang speak at my conference or event?

Candy has enjoyed speaking at many universities, conferences, and organizations about community, creativity, and emotional health. These talks directly support her public art works. If you’re interested, please contact the Lavin Agency.

Candy Chang is an artist, TED Fellow, and public speaker. She is represented by The Lavin Agency.

“Before I Die is merely one of the most creative community projects ever.”

The Atlantic